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Creativity Triggers for College Students by Edward Glassman Ph.D.
What is Creativity? : Page 2 of 2

What is Creativity?

continued from page 1

4. Forced-withdrawal
Change the setting of your perspective. Create and combine alternatives within a different context than the real problem. For example, pretend you work for a new, different company or that you are a different person. In this way, you avoid getting bogged down in stifling old thoughts and habits. Forced-withdrawal helps you escape the constraints of the real problem and provides you a clearing within which to stay creative.

5. Trigger-ideas
Trigger-ideas, ideas that do not contribute to a quality solution, when properly used trigger other ideas that do work. Trigger-ideas can play a key role in creative thinking. They help you avoid timeworn paradigms and lead you down new mental paths.

6. Triggered free association
All ideas trigger new alternatives in unstructured ways. Stay open to this possibility when pursuing a quality solution. Indeed, even exotic words can spark new ideas.

7. Forced combinations
The creation of unexpected and useful ideas depends on you combining ideas, objects, thoughts, and impressions with your problem statement, one cornerstone of creative thinking (see Chapters 8-16 of my book).

8. Idea improvement
Improve your idea. This process itself will spark many more new ideas.

  1. List what you like about the idea so you
    won't change that.
  2. List what needs improvement.

This will give you a sense of the usefulness of your idea. This process can act like a creativity trigger, and spark additional new alternatives throughout.

9. Combine ideas into trigger-proposals
Sort and combine ideas into a trigger-proposal before converting it into a quality solution. A trigger-proposal is based on forced-withdrawal (see #4), and needs transformation into a quality workable proposal. This new and important approach prevents the premature use of criteria that can ruin a potentially high-quality solution when choosing ideas. See my book for details. Don't lose out to premature evaluation.


Adapt the creativity triggers described in my new book to your special use.

Stay creative when switching basic elements.

What works counts most. Avoid philosophical distractions.

Allow no boundary to limit how much you change a creativity trigger to fit what you want.

Avoid the internal gauntlet and other habits that distort the creative atmosphere in your mind.

Use forced-withdrawal with metaphors and analogies to help your subconscious mind creep in.

Stay patient and relentless.

Turn the creative process into an ongoing habit.


  • Waking up in the middle of the night with an idea so hot you turn on the light and write it down.
  • When driving to work, an idea so cool pops into your mind that you pull off the road to write it down.
  • Making endless lists of alternatives.
  • Getting excited about your work.

So combine old ideas into new creative combinations and contact me at my NEW website (see below). •

© 2011 by Edward Glassman. All rights reserved.

Edward Glassman, PhDEdward Glassman, PhD was the President of the Creativity College®, a division of Leadership Consulting Services, Inc., and Professor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he headed the Program For Team Effectiveness And Creativity. More »